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Word on the trail is… there’s some confusion about flow rates and what they mean for Drumheller

I’m still hearing some confusion about flow rates and what they mean for people who live in Drumheller. Totally understandable. I always say, “the more you know the more you grow!” Knowing our flow rates and protecting our town accordingly will keep us safe and help our community grow and prosper. Remember, it’s all about protecting property from flooding and preserving it’s value.

Know Your Flow Pop Quiz
Today, let’s use the rumour stick for a little game of “know your flow.” Answer these four questions, selecting from the possible flow rates listed.

  1. What was the initial flow forecast in the Red Deer River for the 2005 and 2013 flood events?
  2. What was the peak flow rate for the river in 2005 and 2013?
  3. What was the peak flow rate for the river in the 1915 flood?
  4. What is a good flow to enjoy the river in a canoe/kayak?


Choose from these possible flow rates (measured in metres cubed per second or m3/s)

      1. 100
      2. 1,400
      3. 2,100
      4. 3,000


How did you do?

If you answered 3,000 m3/s to #1 you would be correct. The initial forecast for both the 2005 and 2013 flood events was incredibly high. Flow rates of 3,000 m3/s were a real possibility then and remain a real threat for us in the future. Drumheller was “spared” when the rain storm moved to the Bow Basin. The peak flow rate for both 2005 and 2013 (answer for #2) was approximately 1,400 m3/s. For anyone around in those years, you know this was still incredibly challenging. In 1915 Drumheller experienced flow rates of 2,100 m3/s. That is the answer to #3. Finally, the answer to #4 is 100 m3/s. The river is an incredible amenity and it’s equally important to know what flow rates mean for recreational purposes.

What does this mean?
It means flow rates as high as 3,000 m3/s are a very real possibility in Drumheller and we have had recent floods as high as 1,400 m3/s and historic floods of 2,100 m3/s. The current flood protection system is being built to a base of 1,850 m3/s, which is a reasonable level – not too high, not too low, with the ability to adjust quickly to these higher flow rates of 3,000 m3/s.

Bottom line is this:
We need to know flow rates and we need to protect our town for both the most realistic and most devastating potentialities. It’s all about a multiple layered approach to flood protection. Now you know!

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